This issue is titled “Sustenance and Survival,” and while the editors claim that the most direct connection would be through stories about food, the pieces “expand our definitions of nourishment.” Editor-in-Chief Leigh Thomas writes, “this selection of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry offers up a feast of ways to envision sustaining ourselves that have very little–if anything at all–to do with food (at least as we normally imagine it).”
In the fiction section, Peter Hully’s “After Dancing” struck me as the most compelling. With subtle hints, it motions toward a fear of what comes next, the fear that life will simply rush by. My favorite clue to this lies with the old man who feels he has hit retirement too soon, and his ride on the fast train is getting to him: “It’s the motion; it makes me sick sometimes.” This piece questions if simple “survival” is enough; what comes next?
In “Concealment in the Love Space” Pearl—half-American, half-Taiwanese—teaches in Taiwan where she speaks little of the language and has barely any friends. Dean, the only other teacher there her age, and she have a “love” connection, but it isn’t grounded on much. What relationships in this country does she really have to keep her going, keep her surviving—beyond the physical meaning of the word?
Katrina Greco’s poem “The Meal” starts with a quote from Sylvia Plath’s “Lesbos” (“Viciousness in the kitchen! / The potatoes hiss.”) and continues:
I may be your meal,
sweet and plummy,
catching behind your tongue,
as one by one
I pull teeth
out of my arm,
the part where I
Intriguing, yes? Keep reading. Also read the special contribution poems by Jean-Paul Pecqueur.
While I was not fully impressed with all of the writing in this issue, what was most important was the stories and messages that came across, sustaining.